The Level Best campaign invited disabled people, carers, professionals to get involved. To explain what they wanted to see from council services in Kirklees in West Yorkshire, taking in the conurbations of Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley and the surrounding rural areas.
It was small scale, focused on a specific community of interest and primarily about local welfare services.
It involved a reference group, not unlike an assembly, public meetings, focus groups, research questionnaires a range of techniques drawn from different professional and community approaches.
It resulted in significant local changes and showed how engaging people effectively brings real and lasting results.
There are many examples of how measures to promote people’s active participation can make a real difference in governance and the quality of our lives. We need to take these lessons to change the way our societies and their institutions work.
The constructive pressure from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the opportunities afforded by adopting ideas such as citizens’ assembly and localised practical responses to our challenges will help us develop a more sustainable approach to life that can arise from the people themselves and provide opportunities that are different from traditional work models.
It’s easy to forget how different we are within and between countries and cultures. Living in India and hosting visitors from around the world is precious. It helped Manjula and I realise and celebrate our similarities and differences.
We all generally travel for fun and many of us wish to create a shift, from our comfort zone, using that journey to appreciate how different things are.
I’ve now lived her for ten years and often forget what its like back in my own country, the disUnited kingdom.
This reminds me of the quiz questions I’d give to business executives before bringing them to India.
As part of my presentation I’d emphasise that: Its ‘differently organised’ and seems transparent but can be confusingly opaque, and my favourite its: ‘consistently inconsistent’.
Please realise this comes from a love of the place and its people and not just the very special one.
Check out this selection of questions and see how you fare but remember its ‘consistently inconsistent’ and it’s rapidly changing. Some of these are sweeping generalisations but I was a sociologist. Answers are in UK pounds.
1 How do you traditionally greet a woman?
2 When do you use your car horn? a – in an emergency b – to inform other road users you’re there c – to tell someone to get out of the way
3 Imagine you’re driving between two poles or structures with enough space for one and a half vehicles, do you drive a – to one side b – equidistant from either side
4 what the ‘accepted’ minimum daily wage rate in India (this is converted into UK pounds) a- 2.50 b- 5.00 c-7.50
5 How much did Manjula get paid per month for running (managing the staff, greeting the guests, cooking and cleaning) the Mysore Bed and Breakfast a – 50 b – 100 c -150
6 How much is it to stay at Mysore Bed and Breakfast (including breakfast) for two people sharing?. a- 24 b- 28 c- 32 How much to stay at an equivalent in the UK? a- x2 b- x3 c- x4
7 How much did Stephen get paid per day in the UK for delivering a days training for businesses. a – 300 b – 500 c- 1500
and the impossible question for which there is no obvious answer: how much do you tip? there is top tip on this on our site: http://www.manjulasmysore.in
1 hands clasped together at chest level, as if in prayer and say namaste otherwise wait to see how a woman greets you and follow. Traditionally it’s unusual to touch. The greeting for a man is similar but in business might be a hand shake. In Mysore there is a more informal version of Namaste just using one hand with a casual raising to the chest.
2 all the above, most often to inform the vehicle who’s just pulled out in front of you that you’re there and coming round. Generally its not used aggressively although that is changing.
3 of course it depends on the situation, but people in India will tend to drive to one side and in the west down the centre. In a busy place with lots of people you’ve all got to fit in! The issue of personal social and living space is perceived quite differently. That includes how people look and its not rude to stare!
4 a – 2.50 most people survive on very little, its worth checking Maslow’s hierarchy as most people in western terms might be seen to be struggling but determining the impact it has and levels of ‘satisfaction’ can be different and complex.
5 b – 100 and that’s not accounting for the bliss and joy we were paid. I clearly did nothing and was paid nothing, just allowed lo live here and be fed.
6 a – 24 we’ve no idea what the equivalent would be in the UK
7 between a and b when delivering training events as more recently I worked for one of the Prince of Wales’s charities working directly with international corporations. I mostly chose to work on behalf of not-for-profits, community organisations and government. The usual corporate rate was c and above.
It’s actually impossible to know the answers and part of the learning to compare and contrast our countries and cultures. The unpredictability is one of the attractions of diving into the unknown and ‘going with the flow.’
I know little. I continue to stumble and trip in my efforts to be connect with this wonderful country and its people and even I had the most beautiful, caring, giving guide, I could wish for in the world.